These fine folks are Lori and her son Russell. They have been scraping by on a little over $500 a month in child support and disability from Russ's estranged father plus food stamps.
This is their home: a 1995 Chevrolet Tahoe.
Lori is a 48-year-old single mom with a heart condition. Russ is 14 and suffers from nystagmus, a condition of involuntary eye movement that limits his vision.
As you can tell from the photos, Russell is an irrepressible ham and loves attention (in a good way!) He's a great kid and he and Lori love each other very much. Lori's heart condition may qualify her for disability, which she's exploring with the help of some friends.
They're good people. And they need some help.
I have watched Lori and Russell struggle for the past year, and it breaks my heart. Some of us in the van dwelling community have tried to help but the few dollars we can afford here and there are not going to solve the problem.
Lori and Russell both love their nomadic, outdoor-oriented life but they need more shelter, stability, and of course, money. With a trailer, they can have all three. With a trailer, Lori would be able to get a job. That's what she wants to do. But she can't get one without a real place to live.
Then it occurred to us: that place can be on wheels.
With a simple, small travel trailer, she can qualify for many of the thousands of so-called 'work camping' jobs around the U.S., from camp hosting in state and national forests and RV campgrounds to hospitality jobs in theme parks and resorts.
The trailer doesn't need to be fancy, just a small space where they can fix meals, use the toilet, and have their own beds. With a home on wheels like this, they can go where the jobs are, Russell can focus on his homeschooling studies, and Lori can work to improve their lives even more.
A small, used travel trailer, 12-17 feet long, with a kitchen, small bathroom, and two beds, would fit their needs perfectly. There are many ads for trailers like this on Craigslist and other places. Lori's Tahoe has the capacity to tow a trailer of that size. They should be able to get a good used one for between $3000 and $4000. With $1000 extra for necessary repairs, registration and insurance, $5000 should be enough to get them going.
Alternatively, if there are any gracious, awesome, generous people out there who have such a trailer available and would be willing to donate it to Lori and her son, that would awesome too! Then we'd just need about $1000 for incidentals and associated expenses.
When I was talking with Lori a few days ago about her options and what she could do to help herself and her son, I told her, "Don't lose hope." She replied, only half-joking, "Hope? What's that?" I'm hoping you'll help me show Lori and Russell both just what hope looks like.
This. This is what hope looks like for Lori and Russell.
Will you help? Whatever you can give, even $10 or $20, will add up. And please be sure to share this page with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.
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